Handing out pamphlets on COVID-19 in Iraq
By Ulla Saunte 9 Jun 2020 | Mission East

Mission East's COVID-19 response

Here's an overview of our extensive Corona response: How are we supporting - and what are the challenges?

Mission East was quick to respond to the humanitarian crisis following the COVID-19 outbreak with a large-scale COVID-19 emergency relief plan to help over 350,000 people in five selected countries: Nepal, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since then, Tajikistan was included and our goal now is to help no fewer than 625,000 people. As always, our support focus is on refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and people with disabilities who are among the most vulnerable.

The four components of our emergency response 

Mission East's COVID-19 emergency response consists of four components, which in terms of composition and quantity, are adapted to each country according to what is most needed:

1) Information: Pamphlets, posters and radio messages (the latter especially in areas of widespread illiteracy).

2) Food: Oil, rice, pasta, salt, canned vegetables and other long-lasting, heat-resistant foods with high nutrients.

3) Hygiene items: soap, chlorine, hand sanitizer, detergent, disinfectants and cleaning products.

4) Protective equipment for health clinics: Gloves, masks and disinfectants.

Gap between capacity and funding

We write cautiously that we "can" assist 625,000 people because the capacity is there, but much of the funding is missing. At the time of writing (mid-May 2020), only 21 percent of our COVID-19 emergency response has been funded, partly through new donations and partly through redistribution of existing funds. This means that there is a "gap" of 79 percent - a gap that means that thousands of people are not getting the support they need.

Hunger may claim more victims than COVID-1

Secretary General, Kim Hartzner, just posted an opinion piece in the political online magazine Altinget: “Corona was bad. Now hunger threatens millions ”.

He calls on the government, the Minister of Development and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to release additional funds for the world's most vulnerable. His reason for doing so is the devastating impact of COVID-19, that people living in poverty, refugees and displaced people lose income and that shops and markets are closing down.

The World Bank states that COVID-19 is causing global poverty to grow for the first time since 1998. The UN estimates that 2 billion people are not getting sufficient nutritious food, that 820 million are facing chronic famine and that 113 million are dying of hunger.

We can do something about it - after all

It is a huge challenge, but we can also do the most incredible things. We have already been able to help over 100,000 people in almost no time across multiple continents. In Homs, in Syria, we reached our target with the end of April distribution. And even in Iraq, which has been in a complete lockdown, we have managed to support.

Our efficiency is primarily due to our thorough knowledge of the program countries through our long-standing presence. Next, we have a solid network of local partners. And last but not least, we already did and do what the emergency response plan contains: supporting people in Asia and the Middle East to avoid diseases through improved hygiene, nutrition, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and awareness.

Countries with special challenges

The following pages present how we provide COVID-19 support to thousands of people in these six countries: Nepal, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. These are countries with particular challenges such as poor medical care, scarcity of protective equipment, limited testing capacity and breakdown of the food supply chain infrastructure.

Making things worse are the difficulty of keeping physical distance in densely populated areas, job losses and thus fewer livelihood opportunities and, moreover, the risk of domestic violence under strict curfews.


This is were the funding comes from

Mission East is now seeking a total of DKK 23 million to help 625,000 people in six countries with information, food and hygiene items.

We are targeting six of our working countries: Nepal, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

The funding is asked from and provided by individuals, associations, churches, foundations and public institutions such as Danida and the EU. In order to respond quickly to the crisis, Mission East has so far redistributed funds from other projects.